GPs fear maternity pay could 'disappear' under NHS reforms

Maternity locum payments could 'disappear' as budgets are squeezed and NHS reforms take place, the Medical Women's Federation (MWF) has warned.

Dr Fabre warned that CCG budgets could be so tight that they could no longer afford locum maternity pay.

MWF president Dr Clarissa Fabre said funding for practices to cover the cost of locums for partners on maternity leave was under threat.

It was unclear whether clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) or the NHS Commissioning Board would be responsible for the payments once PCTs were abolished, she said.

‘At present, at least you know the PCT will pay a bit of the locum payments,’ Dr Fabre said. But she warned that in future CCG budgets could be so tight that they could no longer afford to pay them.

‘Locum payments are going to disappear,’ she said.

NHS Confederation acting deputy chief executive David Stout said he could not be sure who would be responsible for the payments once PCTs no longer existed.

But he suggested that because the NHS Commissioning Board (NCB) will hold GP contracts, it could take control of maternity payments as a part of this role.

Maternity locum payments are not mandatory under current rules, with some PCTs choosing not to pay.

Mr Stout said if the payments became the responsibility of the NCB, it would have a single national policy on maternity locum payments. ‘It’s unlikely that they’d do it inconsistently,’ he said.

GPC member Dr Helena McKeown said it was still unclear who would be responsible for the payments. She said a single policy would be welcome to eliminate the current postcode lottery.

Dr McKeown said if CCGs took control of maternity locum payments, it could increase inequality. ‘The question is will it get worse - this has yet to be seen.’

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